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September 5, 2016 ~ Issue 12
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Afro-Latina ~ A woman with roots from any Latin American country
that is of, relates, or celebrates African a
ncestry 

Es Mi Cultura spreads awareness of the wonderful contributions Afro-Latinas are making to further advance our presence. Each month this newsletter spotlights Afro-Latinas and all their sabor, provides links to various articles and personal stories penned by, about, or for Afro-Latinos, along with book features, and additional information.
 
While this newsletter is aimed towards Afro-Latinas— we need to see people who look like us. Es Mi Cultura is for readers of both genders, all races, cultures, and backgrounds.

Latino Heritage Month is from September 15 to October 15 in the United States. This is when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group's heritage and culture.
Rosa Clemente, a native of the South Bronx, is one of the most raw, honest, political, social, and cultural voices in the country. From Harvard to prisons, Rosa has spent her life dedicated to scholar activism. She is currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. Dubois department of UMASS-Amherst. Throughout her scholarly career, Rosa has been a constant on the ground presence through the many political struggles facing Black and Latinx people in the 21st century.

Rosa is the president and founder of Know Thy Self Productions, which has produced four major community activism tours and consults on issues such as Hip-Hop activism, media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third party politics, intercultural relations between Black and Latinx, immigrants’ rights as an extension of human rights, and universal healthcare. She is a frequent guest on television, radio and online media, as her opinion on critical current events is widely sought after.

Rosa is a leading scholar on the issues of Afro-Latinx identity. Her groundbreaking article, Who is Black?, published in 2001, was the catalyst for many discussions regarding Blackness in the Latinx culture. She continues to discuss cultural identity, political identity and racial identity in and out of the academy.

Read More: HERE

"This fall I will continue my "If I Was President Tour." Heck if so many people think or are being told their only choice is a neofascist or a neoliberal, I will attempt to offer a Black and Brown revolutionary alternative, a peoples revolutionary agenda based in base building and grassroots organizing. Voting is a tactic not a destination. If you are interested in booking me please visit my website www.rosaclemente.net

Sept 15-Connecticut College
Sept 20-Macalester College
Sept 22-Navigate Minnesota Keynote
Sept 27-Old Dominion University
Sept 28- Millersville University
Oct 1-UMASS-Dartmouth
Oct 7-18th Iowa State University Latino Conference 
Oct 11-Concord Academy
Oct 18-Rowan University
Oct 20-Springfield College
Oct 21st-Mount Holyoke College
Oct 26th-Delta College
Nov 9th-Colorado College
Nov 17-National Student Leadership Conference

Read Rosa's latest contributions to PBS.org:
For the GOP, making America great is for the rich, white and male
The Democratic Party is not what it seems

Jolín Miranda is the owner of the online Etsy shop, Boricubi. She was born in Glendale, California to a Puerto Rican mother and Afro-Cuban father. She is a self-taught artist who has been drawing all her life. She fell in love with acrylic painting at the age of 20, when she did her first fairy self-portrait. At the time, she had an obsession with mermaids and fairies but could never find any that represented her. It was then, that she had decided to paint her own paintings in which she could relate to. 
 
As a child, growing up Afro-Latina in California was a real struggle for Jolín. She had so many questions and faced so much confusion. It was difficult for her to completely relate with her Central American friends, whose Aztec features represented the “traditional” Latino image in Los Angeles. She also couldn’t completely relate to her African American peers, with her first language being Spanish and her main household music being Salsa and Merengue. To make matters even more confusing, Jolín didn’t seem to understand why at school the US Race Census list had a category of “Black not of Hispanic Origin”.
 
As her peers began to label her as being mixed with Black and Mexican, she began to constantly asking her parents, “Are you sure I’m not Black?” She was never completely satisfied with their response of, "No, you're Latina. You are of African descent but you're not African American."  Of course logically her friends made more sense to her than her parents. California has a high population of Mexican Latinos since it neighbors Mexico. Therefore many Californians have the ignorant mindset of, if you speak Spanish, then you must be Mexican. And if you look Black with kinky curly hair then you must be African American. There were so many times Jolín just wished she lived in the East Coast where she didn’t have to explain her culture and her Afro-Latina features would be accepted. But her wish never happened.
In time, Jolín began to have a clear understanding of her background. It was helpful to have examples of Afro-Latinas such as Celia Cruz, Lauren Vélez, and Gina Torres. She embraces all of her African, Spanish and Taino roots. Jolín no longer cares if people were left confused when she tells them that she is Latina. “Yes, there are lots of Latinos who look like me”, she tells people. “We come in every shade from the lightest of light to darkest of dark”.
As a mother of a 6 year-old daughter, Jolín knows the importance of instilling self-love. Her Mixed Media Art pieces are a fun way that she represents the beauty of all women. She has especially found the need to help women embrace their natural, kinky curly hair. She feels that when her Mixed Media Art canvases are displayed, young girls and women will have a visual relatable image that represents their beauty. Whether you are a woman with kinky hair, dark skin or freckles, Jolín knows you are beautiful and uses that inspiration in her art. Her online shop called Boricubi, is a portmanteau of Boricua and Cubichi.
"I was raised in the South Bronx with strong ties to my Dominican and Puerto Rican cultures. I am a Creative determined to use my craft as a tool to serve. I believe that visual art is a powerful form of communication. It can communicate complex ideas, provide a different perspective, and empower individuals. I graduated from the School of Art and Design at SUNY Purchase with a BFA in Graphic Design. I am currently a Graphic Designer, preservationist, and Photographer working for the publications department at the Center For Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, my work is internationally viewed and nationally published.

My design support helps in the art direction of Centro’s Voices eMagazine, and I’m the graphic designer for the award winning CENTRO Journal since 2014. Outside of my professional career I like taking pictures of my beloved Bronx and being a part of community events with organizations like Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute(CCCADI), Afro-Latino Forum, Bronx Narratives and many others. As an alumni from the Community Arts University Without Walls (CAUWW) based at the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico and is a fellow of the Innovative Cultural Advocacy at the CCCADI and I always working within those groups. 
I create to make a difference." ~ Imani Nuñez

How has your Caribbean heritage influenced your work?

Imani: “My culture is a big part of my identity and my art is an expression of my identity, making it difficult to for me to separate my heritage from my design work. In every decision I make, both personally and professionally my culture is a large factor. It is present in the experiences I have, the perspective I bring and the goals I want to attain. Currently at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies, I get to design and create for projects that preserve and record the Puerto Rican Diaspora. This allows me to work on projects I am passionate about as well as make a direct impact on my community.”

What do you love the most about being of Caribbean heritage?

Imani: “What I love most of my heritage is the solidarity that I feel with the people I share it with. It is very affirming to find atonement with other people outside of your family. Knowing that there are others who share similar beliefs, values and struggles gives me strength and a sense of community.”

Read More of Imani's inverview with Dougla Girl Creates

Yo soy Afro-Latina! ~ Aymee Malena

*Girl! Shut up!

What the hell are you talking about?

What the hell is an Afro-Latina anyways?

You aint black…You’re straight from Dominican Republic….

YES, I am from QUISQUEYA LA BELLA

I am from that beautiful isla with warm sands and blue beaches.

I’m from beautiful sunsets in el campo de mis abuelos

I come from : [ platano con salami!! ] *dances*

I am from the Dominican flag–ARROZ, HABICHUELA Y CARNE

My first language is NOT Ingles. My lengua is FIRE HOT Spanish,

the language of the conquistadores.

Yea, you’re right I AM STRAIGHT from Republica Dominicana.

BUT, I also come come from the kidnapped black slaves,

brought to my bella isla to work the fields because

my lovely Taino’s backs couldn’t take it anymore so they died…

I come from the slaves ships full of black men and women not knowing where they were being taken.

I come from the lashes of slave masters in Hispaniola.

I am from sugarcane fields, filled with exploited black slaves.

I am from a society that seems to celebrate Cristobal Colon and his “discovery” of the New World.

But  SERIOUSLY what discovery?

My peoples had already been in the island for five thousand years!

Senor Colon, thanks to you “discovering” us, my beautiful Tainos ceased to live.

Together with your ambitions & brutality, you brought your deathly diseases.

& OF COURSE!!! You had to bring the black slaves because WHO was going to dig for gold for you?

WHO was going to work your fields?

I am the essence of Tainos…

I can’t really claim Taino ancestry, because by the end of the 16th century they were all dead.

I’m definitely NOT claiming European/white, NO GRACIAS, besides look at me, do I look white to you?

By the 18th century majority of the population in Hispaniola were black slaves.

I COME from black slaves.

You CANNOT tell me what I am or what I’m not.

I may not be YOUR definition of Afro/Black,

but YO SOY AFRO-LATINA,

Te guste o no!…. 

MARVELOUS SUGAR BABY ~ Darrel Alejandro Holnes

A black woman sings azúcar!

over polyrhythmic African drums

on the Latino radio stations

blazing from my smart phone

on the above-ground subway line

in Houston. La negra tiene

tumbao, sings queen Celia Cruz bluntly

about a señorita who doesn’t sweat

the small stuff and is therefore

unstoppable

as she commands us all to dance

to the ton-ton of a conga drum.

But sugar is so soluble and

precious that all it takes is a drizzle

to end the night early

and send the band home.

You’d think stronger stuff

would come from sugarcanes

so hard to chop down that white men

once thought only the Negros

could do it. Perhaps

that’s the thing about making,

the strongest structure is that which

is inevitably torn down,

temperance making

beauty making la vida un carnaval.

This is where we find joy: a rumba despite

the high chances of rain at the Taco Milagro salsa night,

a sing-along about the sweetness of life despite

salty sweat drowning our faces

as the drum rhythm picks up

and our bodies move faster together

toward their own inevitable ends apart—

A black woman, demanding our attention

despite how we stare her down,

struts the street earthily shaking from

side to side. Gracias a Dios,

la negra nos tiene tumbao.

Gracias a Dios, camina

de lao pa lao pa lao. 

I AM… YO SOY LATINA!!! ~ AfroLatina101 

I am the rhythm of the Merengue, Salsa, Bachata, Bomba, and Mambo beat
heard deep down in the bosom of the hermoso Caribe.
I am the melodies of Celia Cruz, La Lupe, Gloria Estefan y Selena.
I am the ripe plantanos in your flavorful mofongo dish or the sorfrito
in your arroz con gandules. The rich and satisfying ingredients in
your Abuelas sancocho.
I am the sweet taste of your cafe con leche y chocolate in your savory deserts.

I AM... YO SOY LATINA
I am the sway of your hips, the thickness of your thighs, the fullness
of your plump lips, all of the undeniable beauty in your exotic aura.
I am the spiral in your unmanageable mane of luscious coiled curls and
unruly waist length locks.
I am la Negra rosa or the marrón colored spices of cinnamon and brown sugar.

I AM... YO SOY LATINA
I am unconditional love, fiery passion, y steadfast strength.
I am the roll your R's y el què? To your what?
I am the beloved Guadalupe, the heart of the Santeria and the faithful
believer in the blessed son born of the Virgencita Mariá.
I Am Hermana, Mija, Madre, Mamí, Tiá, Hija, Abuelá, Amiga, Chica.
I am Cortanźa, Lopez, Rodriguez, Parrilla, Mendez, Ortaga,
Montenegro, Valdez, y Marrero.

I am Puertorriqueña, Dominicana, Cubana, Columbiana, Mexicana,
Panameña, Venezolana, Peruana, Hondureña, Costarricensa,
Argentina, Boliviana, Chilena, Guatemalteca, Nicaragüensa, Uruguaya,
Salvadoreña, y Paraguaya.

I AM… YO SOY LATINA!!

Penned  By, About, and For Us!




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The History of Afro-Mexicans
I'm Latino/a. Should I Check Black or White?
AfroLatino Travel Creator Dash Harris' Advice For Creatives In Their 20s
6 Lit Latinegra Sites You Need To Follow
The Black Latina Movement: What Theatre Needs Right Now
Gina Rodriguez Celebrates Her Afro-Latina Roots
11 Woke Latinxs You Should Follow On Social Media
Mouthwatering Latin Food That Highlight African Culture
The Black Roots of Salsa
European Instruments With Afro-Colombian Traditions
Why Is the Term "Latinx" So Important?
Filmmaker NK Gutierrez and The Last Year
Why Puerto Rican Olympic Athletes Need to Speak Out Against Island Racism
Please, Just Call Me Negra 
The Black Experience of Latin Culture 
Brazilian Rafaela Silva almost quit judo because of racism. Now she’s an Olympic gold medalist.
Hija De Mi Madre - "This literary work is the culmination of both personal experiences and undergraduate research that illustrate my identity as an African Latina. It is a combination of memoirs, poems and research material that explain the effects of race on identity from an academic standpoint while sharing my own life as a living example." - Ynanna Djehuty

Es Mi Cultura is published every first Monday of the month by Tamika Burgess. Tamika is a Afro-Panameña, NYC- based writer, blogger, and copy editor. Learn more about her by visiting TamikaBurgess.com
View past issues of Es Mi Cultura: HERE
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Copyright © 2016 Es Mi Cultura, All rights reserved.


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